Category Archives: Aging

Dermatological Vanity

I’ve been avoiding going to the dermatologist for… well, more years than I care to admit. I grew up in South Florida, a bike ride away from the beach. My girlfriends and I would go out with baby oil on our skin in a desperate attempt to get the bronzed look that was so popular. My best friend and I were both cursed blessed with very, very fair skin that burned very quickly and didn’t brown much, if at all. We never stopped trying though, even going as far as skipping school to climb out on the roof of her house to burn our bodies to a crisp.

Nearly thirty years later I realize that this was foolishness of the highest order, but that doesn’t do me any good now. My body and even my head is covered with weird looking skin things of varying colors, sizes and shapes. I have dreaded going to the dermatologist because I was afraid of a lengthy process of biopsies and painful removal procedures.

OW has been pushing me to go, especially since we reached our insurance policy’s out of pocket maximum for the year with the NICU bills. So I took a deep breath. And then I took another. And another. Many deep breaths later, I called and made an appointment.

I was nervous and then had to wait for a full hour after my appointment to be seen. This did not ease my anxiety. I was told that I would have a thorough full-body screening and expected it to take an hour or so. Imagine my shock when the entire scan took less than five minutes. Most of those weird, funky-colored, misshapen things are just seborrheic keratoses and aren’t even caused by the sun. They are hereditary and completely benign to my physical being, if not to my ego.

I have a number of red bumps on my scalp that also worry me. The doctor said they were hemangiomas and were mostly harmless (by the way, if you Google this term you will see some pretty horrifying pictures of them on children. Mine are on my scalp only and are the size of a pencil eraser). One is pretty large (the size of a nickel) and looks different from the others. She said they could remove and biopsy it or just remove it. Apparently the difference is whether insurance covers it.

At the last minute I asked her to look at a very small pimple-looking thing on my jawline. I had, in fact, thought it was a pimple when it first appeared a few months ago. I even squeezed the life out of it, to no avail. Now, months later, it is still there and hasn’t changed at all, so I figured it was just an old lady thing. This turned out to be the thing that the doctor most wanted to examine further. She decided to cut it out and biopsy it. Yikes! She used a local anesthetic, so of course I didn’t feel it. I have been afraid to look at it because I don’t know how deep nor how big the wound is. It was apparently bigger and deeper than it appeared on the surface, so we shall see what happens! She said I should expect the results in about two weeks.

As for my icky mole things, they are a cosmetic issue. The doctor called them barnacles and that’s a good description. I hate them. She can remove them via freezing, but I will have to pay cash for this.

Unless.

She hinted around (and then outright told me) that if I had a particular issue with any of them, like itching, bleeding, etc. insurance would pay for their removal. Wink, wink.

I don’t feel comfortable with lying about something I KNOW is just an issue of vanity. Isn’t this one of the reasons healthcare costs so much in the U.S.? I have at least 14 that are in high visibility areas. It would cost me $185 to have them removed. Back in the DINK days I wouldn’t have thought much about spending that amount of money. I’ve spent more on a pair of shoes. Now is different though. $185 is more than a week’s groceries for my now-tight budget. Should I spend that for vanity’s sake?

Finding the line for this sort of thing has gotten really hard. How much in the way of niceties should we sacrifice now that we have one income and children to support? The money wouldn’t break us, but I feel guilty about the idea of spending it on myself. Does this mean I’ve become a real mom (again)?

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

The AARP is creeping up the driveway

Yesterday was OW’s 42nd birthday and it got me thinking again about age. We never expected to be parents at our age. I know it’s much more common now for women over 40 to have children, but it certainly wasn’t in my life plan.

We’ll both be eligible for AARP (the American Association of Retired People, for non-U.S. folks) before our kids start high school.

Stop and think about that for a moment.

Have you recovered from the shock and horror of that? I haven’t.

I’ve been thinking about the various things that come with age. What does retirement mean to us now? What did it mean to us before? We’d never really talked about it. Neither of us has been good about putting money aside for it and now we have that plus the costs of raising children to think about. Fortunately our only debt is a mortgage, one car payment and OW’s student loans. We don’t carry a balance on our credit cards and pay cash for things like furniture, home improvements, etc. Still, we are now living on 2/3 of our former income and have a lot more expenses. Will we be able to keep up with our changing finances? It’s nerve-wracking.

The physical changes that happen as we get older frighten me a lot. I wasn’t in great shape before I had these kids. I have a good figure but that’s mostly luck. I looked great with my clothes on but not so much without. I was slim but flabby and had zero stamina. I couldn’t run (or probably even walk) a 5k if my life depended on it. OW is in much better shape than I am but he is obese and already has issues with his joints.

I feel truly compelled now to get into shape. I desperately want to be an active mom, not one schlumped on the couch without the energy to get out and play with her kids, but it’s really intimidating. I’m only 5 to 10 pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight but I’m certainly in no better shape now than I was before. When and how am I supposed to find the time to exercise? I generally do my writing in 15-minute blocks when they are both (thank you Universe!) sleeping at the same time. I tweet, do email, etc. from my smartphone while I’m nursing or just holding. I don’t know how to fit in real exercise. Plus, I’m just generally so intimidated by the prospect that it makes me wilt to even think about it.

I think OW and I are generally in good health. Aside from not being in shape (which is a big deal, I know) neither of us has serious physical health problems – so far. That will likely change as we age and I am worried about saddling our kids with our problems before they even have a chance to start families of their own. I am probably being too pessimistic about this but it does worry me. I know that the best way to head that off is to make sure we take good care of ourselves, so I shall refer myself back to the previous paragraph.

The positive in this area is that I am pretty big on eating well. We don’t follow any kind of extreme plan, but I generally refuse to make food with ingredients that come out of boxes and cans. No cream-of-something soups, no instant anything, no Chef Boyardee, no Velveeta (insert extra gagging noises here), and no pretend cheese that comes by the slice wrapped in weird plastic. Oh – and I want to make an announcement: No Totino’s Pizza Rolls shall ever cross the threshold of this house!

So now we’re faced with being 46 when the boys start kindergarten. OW and I will be 56 when the boys start high school. I imagined myself at 56 having several grandchildren, not surly teenage boys.

How in the world are we going to keep up? I will D.I.E. if anyone ever asks me if I’m their grandmother. That’s unlikely right now but 15 years from now? I’m not so sure. Are you an AMA (advanced maternal age) mom? How do you feel about it? Do you believe that we really are as young as we think we are? Have you had to change your perspective on things now that you have small children?

Bare your soul to me, please.

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.